Primary Elections Would Make British Politics More Accountable

Labour Party’s Effete MPs Would Be Culled; Tories Shaken Up Too.
Don’t Be Fooled By Cameron’s Sham “Open” Primaries.

“Ed Miliband trying to masquerade as a horny-handed toiler in front of the Doncaster North Labour party? He might have to do some serious canvassing in Hampstead if he wanted to stay in Parliament”

Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent action to block Home Secretary Theresa May supporters from being accepted as candidates for Parliament reminded me why we need to introduce primary elections if the health of our democracy is to be repaired.

Cameron’s blocking move shows with some clarity that a small group of politicians today hold a tyrannically tight grip on our politics by this power over who is a candidate. This veto strangles and narrows debate by imposing a narrow viewpoint on Parliament, and goes some way to explaining the public’s exasperation with politics. It takes power away from local people, and boosts fringe parties like UKIP.

People are losing patience with the main parties, which are seen as pale imitations of each other, and remote with it. Both Labour and the Conservatives insist on controlling all the candidates for Parliament from the centre. Primary elections would go some way to making sure that local people’s views were represented, but not the pale apology “open” primary which David Cameron has suggested. Allowing everyone in a constituency to vote on each party’s candidates would make sure the blandest, the most apologetic candidates were selected, and would make the actual election even more choice-free and meaningless.

No, each party must have its own primary vote by paid up members who would come up with the candidate who best represented local conservative or labour (or whomever) views. The primary election would be held a month before the general election. This would also boost membership of parties, and make sure that in constituencies like mine – Arundel and South Downs perennially Conservative with a candidate for life after he is nominated the first time – members were forced to justify their tenure.

OK, people would have to vote twice, but is that really a serious problem? I don’t think so. Let’s face it, the French vote twice (if a candidate doesn’t get a 50 per cent majority), so why can’t we? And the primary system works in the U.S., where the political system is much more diffuse than here with the political parties all controlled locally. National officials exist, but more to coordinate than to dictate policy.

Bye, Bye Eagles
And you can see how this might work in interesting ways. How, for instance, could the two Eagles sisters be in safe lifetime Labour party seats if there were primary elections. Can you imagine how regular working class voters would deal with these two effete socialist snobs at a primary? And Ed Miliband trying to masquerade as a horny-handed toiler in front of the Doncaster North Labour party? He might have to do some serious canvassing in Hampstead if he wanted to stay in Parliament. Not to mention the pampered public school-boy and “historian”, the Honourable Tristram Hunt.

This would also make sure that UKIP would cease to be a thorn in the side of the Conservatives, because candidates would tend to be much more right wing, libertarian and anti-European Union if local members were allowed their say and Central Office’s dead hand was removed. The Lib Dems would move closer to their real home in the Labour Party if locals were allowed more say in the selection process.

Primaries would also go a long way towards destroying the whip system in Parliament, which forces our MPs to kowtow to the leadership at the expense of local accountability and opinion. It would make calls for proportional representation look like a waste of time, if the current system could be tweaked towards more accurate representation of local views. After all, isn’t the current call for more regional representation merely a function of how poorly the current system works? More regional government would simply add another layer of pricey, unaccountable bureaucracy with candidates handpicked by the London dictatorship. It would do nothing to make our system of governance work better.

So let’s do it. Primaries please.

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